The residents of a small Yorkshire town have successfully fought off plans to house migrants in their community, arguing that there were no services or resources available for the newcomers.
Outsourcing firm G4S, which has the government contract to house asylum seekers and is under pressure to disperse them around the country, had singled out population 6,000 Loftus as a location to place an undisclosed number of migrants, to the dismay of the locals.
The town overlooks the North Sea and Yorkshire Moors and boasts two churches, three primary schools, and a handful of social clubs such as the cadets and scouts – but has no bus service and is only served by a part time police station.
Those plans have now been dropped, thanks to the anger of residents and the local council, local paper The Gazette has reported.
At a heated meeting in the town hall this week residents insisted they were not against helping people in principle, but that practically speaking Loftus had nothing to offer the migrants.
One local, voicing their opinion said: “We don’t even have a bus service. We don’t have enough police cover in the town.
“How can we provide for anyone else?
“When money starts being invested in Loftus, may be then we will be able to help people. But until then, we will not accept this.”
Councillor Mary Lanigan, who represents the Loftus ward, agreed, voicing anger that the council had not been informed sooner of G4S’s plans.
She told the meeting: “I wasn’t best pleased when I met with a council director because I think in situations like this, it should have been courtesy that the council was informed.
“We’ve had refugees here before and the people have embraced them.
“We don’t have the infrastructure at Loftus, nor have we got the police, nor have we got anything for these people. It is not fair for these people as they can’t work and we can’t provide for them.”
Following the meeting, officials from G4S, Redcar and Cleveland Council, and Cleveland Police met to discuss the issue – and the plans were scrapped.
Cllr Lanigan, who was also present, said she was “absolutely delighted with the decision” adding that she “feared” for any migrant who was housed there as the area did not have the facilities they required.
Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, commented: “The fact that G4S have listened to the views of the council and myself that East Cleveland lacks some of the facilities which are needed to properly care for asylum seekers, is helpful.
“East Cleveland has no easy access to community groups, adult English classes, dedicated GP practices, international food shops and has poor transport links.
“I thank the vast majority of the residents of Loftus who listened and accepted these rational reasons which were put forward by the council.
“It was not questionable letters, hearsay or grandstanding which got this situation resolved, it was facts and a sensible dialogue between the involved parties.”